Second-largest city in Ark / THU 10-31-13 / Shetland islands sight / Acupressure technique / Comic strip infant / Nickname for 2012 presidential candidate

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Constructor: David Kwong

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: monsters in MIRRORS (23D: Things worth looking into?) — MIRRORS sits in middle of the grid; on one side, there are four Universal movie monsters. On the other side (reflected in the MIRROR(S), presumably), the mirror images of those monsters, which, in DRACULA's case, is [nothing]  ('cause DRACULA doesn't have a reflection!)


Theme answers:
  • 1A: Universal Studios role of 1941 (WOLFMAN) (8A: NAMFLOW)
  • 17A: Universal Studios role of 1931 (MONSTER) (18A: RETSNOM)
  • 59A: Universal Studios role of 1925 (PHANTOM) (61A: MOTNAHP)
  • 64A: Universal Studios role of 1931 (DRACULA) (65A:        )

Word of the Day: LUNE (3D: Crescent shape) —
In geometry, a lune is either of two figures, both shaped roughly like a crescent Moon. The word "lune" derives from luna, the Latin word for Moon. (wikipedia)
• • •

A cute punchline, but that's a long way to go, and a lot of puzzle to sacrifice, for that one punchline. I have to write in three answers backwards ... for no real reason. MIRRORS is plural when there is really only one mirror here, and also technically in a mirror the letters would be flipped ... so the conceit is far-fetched. Further, MONSTER made me go "???" Only later did I realize "oh, he means *Frankenstein's* MONSTER" ... but technically all these theme answers are monsters, so that answer felt weird/weak/odd. Again, no-reflection DRACULA, cool. Just not worth all the contrivances required to pull it off. IMHO. Puzzle too easy and only really interesting in one, highly localized place.


I can't imagine it took people that long to figure out the non-existent ALUCARD thing. I wrote in ALUCARD and then had [Place to be pampered] as SPA ... D. When crosses checked out, I figured out the gag and just removed ALUCARD. Done and done. Nothing else in this grid is tough, though I did have a slight problem getting started, because of LUNE (?) and FT. SMITH (!?!?!) (4D: Second-largest city in Ark.). But crosses were favorable. Funniest thing in the puzzle was MITTENS (10D: Nickname for a 2012 presidential candidate), as I totally forgot about that nickname. Hell, to be honest, I mostly totally forgot Romney exists.


Off to watch the Sox polish off the Cardinals. Or so I assume. It is Halloween Eve or Devil's Night or Mischief Night or whatever, so who knows what could happen ... as I type this, the Cards have the bases loaded in the 7th ... spooooky.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

99 comments:

Steve J 12:08 AM  

I thought the punchline was brilliant, and it was one of my most enjoyable crossword aha moments ever. Especially after I had gotten most of the puzzle filled out, thought "monsters reversed in the mirror on Halloween - big whoop" before staring for a little bit at the confusing SE, then realized DRACULA can't see his reflection.

Yep, the rest of the puzzle's pretty easy, but that didn't bother me. The punchline was worth it. Add in that there's very little bad fill (ABU/ABOIL was as bad as it got, which ain't too bad), and I found this very enjoyable.

I did have a moment where I thought I'd accidentally opened up this week's American Values Crossword, between MITTENS and a very incorrect (and very much not NYT-appropriate) misreading of the the clue "Clusterfist" at 23A.

jae 12:10 AM  

Completely fell for it thinking it was too easy once you catch on. D'oh!  Loved this puzzle!   Great theme, great punchline!  Just when you think you've seen all the tricks....

Erasures: ShArk for SKATE, eNroute for IN UTERO, otS for FGS, and seAR for CHAR and of course....

This was medium for me. 

@M &A -- Jeff Chen's Wed. LAT puzzle was excellent!  I do the LAT in the evening while watching the news so that at least some part of my brain is enjoying itself. 

retired_chemist 12:10 AM  

Took me by surprise. The purpose of the first three "mirrored" entries is, I suppose, to trick you into entering ALUCARD. The trick worked. Not a treat for me. - DNF for that reason.

Other than that, there was nothing I found noteworthy. Kinda Tue/Wed-ish.

On to Friday.

William McKenzie 12:12 AM  

Not to mention you can't submit the dang thing from your ipad without guessing X might mean nothing. Cheesy.

Questinia 12:21 AM  

Adorable puzzle. I think there are two mirrors. One per monster couplet. The lull of "oh this is too easy" into the "punchline" was worth it.

Elaine2 12:21 AM  

It would have been terrific if it had worked with the entry opposite Dracula left BLANK. I know that Dracula has no reflection, but how was I supposed to know to enter "X" in each of the boxes?

Cute, but NO FAIR.

Elaine2 12:22 AM  

It would have been terrific if it had worked with the entry opposite Dracula left BLANK. I know that Dracula has no reflection, but how was I supposed to know to enter "X" in each of the boxes?

Cute, but NO FAIR.

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

I feel this crossword needed to be a 76-worder in order to compensate for the gimmick.

Steve J 12:47 AM  

@Elaine2: The Xs are the software's fault, not the puzzle's. In print, you'd just leave it blank.

I do wish the puzzle software writers would come up with a way to handle these sorts of things. Seems like once every couple months I find myself dumbfounded by a puzzle that won't mark as complete even after I've verified every last letter.

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

Steve J, you're 100% right, the puzzle writers (such as myself) are writing for the print editions. The more creative constructors will always find something new that doesn't work properly on the software programs. That's the nature of the game. For example with today's puzzle, just forget about Mr Happy Pencil (or what ever), leave those spaces blank and say: "Solved!" ... just like the print edition solvers did. I know it's hard living without Mr. Happy Pencil for 24 hrs, but you'll pull through. I did... with hardly any withdrawal symptoms ;)

-MAS

Evan 2:17 AM  

Agreed with others in that this puzzle provided me with a great a-ha moment, but I take Rex's point that MONSTER is kinda vague as a theme entry -- even as a reference to Frankenstein's monster, it still fits as a description of the others. Woulda been nice to have a more classic movie monster name than just MONSTER. And it's too bad that outside of things like ME-TIME, J.S. BACH, and OH YES, the non-theme fill itself is kinda bland -- that's what happens when the longest answer is just seven letters long.

Still, getting the blank at 65-Across was very satisfying. And if you check out the Xwordinfo analysis, it's pretty funny that they list four unique Shortz-era words for this puzzle: NAMFLOW, RETSNOM, and MOTNAHP. You have to imagine the blank space.

Atria Casa Motnahp 2:20 AM  


I fell for it! But then left MOTNAHP blank too at first, thinking maybe PHANTOMs wouldn't be able to see themselves either...

Forget Xs! I did it by hand and had pen scribbles all along the bottom, trying to black out ALUCARD

Loved the little JAR/JAY/JAB/JSB buildup!

Have to admit with -O-B for development site, I considered bOoB. (Cue inner 12 yr old boy here)

ad @SteveJ I noted "Clusterfist" and thought one more and it's a puzzle!

Anyway, lots of fun! Isn't David Kwong the Harvard guy/magician? So it's neat that he used MIRRORS!
Very David Copperfield!

Still mad at myself for being too cheap to pay an extra $15 to hold a KOALA in Australia last summer.
They looked sticky, tho.

Carola 2:54 AM  

"One of these things is not like the others" - very clever! I wrote in ALUCARD, and then, when it clearly wasn't working out, remembered about vampires and mirrors. Loved the joke.

Also liked WOLFMAN crossing LUNE and the sort of creepy MONSTER-gestational vibe with IN UTERO and WOMB.

@David Kwong - Thanks for the delightful Halloween treat.

jae 3:53 AM  
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jae 3:55 AM  

@MAS & Steve J - Amen -- The only controversy among those of us who do these on paper is pencil vs. ink.  There is, of course, the minor disagreements among pencil users concerning Bics vs. PaperMates and .07s vs. .05s. (good morning @lms).   

And, I've often wondered if on-line solvers who don't get Mr. Happy Pencil after completing a grid count that as a DNF?  If you are a paper solver the only way you know you DNF is by checking Google, or checking Rex, or checking something of that ilk....

Oh, and if you need to know your time, that's why most watches have a stop-watch feature. 

Matty 5:16 AM  

I think this is the only time I've gotten chills from a puzzle. But I scare easy, so...

George Barany 5:48 AM  

Happy Halloween to all! This puzzle's punchline was both tricky and treaty, and maybe a subtle testament to the virtues of solving on paper rather than on-line.
If anyone is not puzzled out and wants to tackle (sic) something a bit different, Brent Hartzell and I have constructed "Take It to the Bank!" (http://tinyurl.com/collegefootballpuz)--the tinyurl already gives away the fact that this 17x17 has a heavy sports theme. We also had a lot of fun with the "more reading" page that you can link to from the "main" page, and are open to suggestions for one final sentence that could reference @rex and one of his pet peeves. Thanks!

Danp 5:55 AM  

I can't wait to say, "What a clusterfist!" in the real world.

Danp 5:55 AM  
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MetaRex 7:03 AM  
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AliasZ 7:03 AM  

Every now and then a little smoke-and-MIRRORS trickery is just fine, especially on All Hallows' Eve. I can see that all commenters from the blogmeister on down thoroughly dissected the theme entries ad nauseam already, in its minutest details and nuances, frontwards and back, so there is no need for me to crowd the field. Only two MONSTERs to add: on that lives in LOCH Ness, and the Abominable SNOWman of the Himalayans.

Instead, let me concentrate on the rest of the puzzle. Hmmm... JAB, JAR, JAY, ARK, ORB, IMP, IRK, OAT, CAY, SAG, DEB, NEC, CAP, VAT, RIA yesterday and @RIA today, then ME TIME, ARE UP, ARE AS, A BOIL. OH YES, a rather SCANT showing, NOT SO much here to sink one's teeth into. MITTENS, NARNIA and SHIATSU can hardly provide enough mass to counterbalance the lightness of the rest.

Speaking of mass, here is the alto aria Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, MISERere nobis. from the Mass in B-minor by J.S. BACH. He makes it all worthwhile.

On to Friday.

MetaRex 7:07 AM  

Mirror images of today's bottom row:

CLEVER!!!!<--->7 CHEATERS

That ------- row gets a 0 (good) on the eseometer...FGS OTOH scores 3 (not good).

The overall eseometer story today is here

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Wolfman backwards = Nam Flow....

Tim O'Brien (and others) would like this, or maybe they wouldn't.

jburgs 7:24 AM  

Can't bear to look at myself in the mirror after not getting the trick.

Ted Cole 7:27 AM  

Any one else have a bunch of erasure marks @ 65A?
Duh!
Ted Cole

Scarab 8:09 AM  

As soon as I got the MIRROR trick, I was on the lookout for vampires. So I didn't fill in aculard. I thought it might be NOTHING or something like that, but the crosses quickly led me to the blanks. I finished very fast for a Thursday, and only lost a second or two trying to submit the puzzle on Magmic with the blanks. Then I went straight to the Magmic forum to learn how the software would want it submitted. I really wish that wasn't necessary. Magmic has actually caught some of these weird ones in advance and given notes on how to submit them, but not today.

And @MAS, it's not a question of a Happy Pencil. Magmic tracks your streak of completed puzzles. I'm not going to break mine for this.

@jae, as a Magmic user, I like to play the puzzles to completion even if my first solution has an error. I keep at it until it's correct. That way I'm learning things for future puzzles! More errors just means a slower time. The only drawback is that I know I'm on a streak of puzzles that were correct the first time, but I don't know how long it is.

r.alphbunker 8:19 AM  

A beautiful Blindaueran theme. Like a magician directing attention away from things he/she does not want the audience to see, I was incapable of seeing any of the problems that RP did. I wonder if RP sees through magic tricks also?

Here is a clip of David Kwong doing some more magic

@Questina,

I liked your suggestion that each monster has their own mirror. The mirror is obviously too narrow to reflect more than one monster at a time and that would present problems in a group photo. However, there is one problem with your suggestion - why would Dracula own a mirror?

Susan McConnell 8:21 AM  

Cute and fun, but darned easy for a Thursday. I knew DRACULA didn't have a reflection, so wasn't sure what to enter in the squares in Across Lite. At first I wanted to leave them blank, but the lure of Mr. Happy Pencil was too strong.

Milford 8:28 AM  

A trick and a treat on Halloween! Yes, I fell into the lull of thinking this was an easy trick, MIRRORS making half the theme answers gimmes. But I got totally duped by the non-reflecting DRACULA! Loved it.

Liked the WOMB/IN UTERO pair - I don't think I ever uttered the word "WOMB" during my pregnancies. Also liked ME TIME, J.S.BACH, and NARNIA.

Yes, as a Magmic user, I had to figure out the X-entry trick to see if I got the rest of the puzzle correct, but really not a big deal. I expect much of the pen & paper crowd to gloat today (yet, again) that their solving experience is superior to mine. But I'm with @MAS, one can be clever enough to enjoy the puzzle on the app.

Rainy Halloween here. Bummer.

Z 8:38 AM  

@All MONSTER haters - Didn't we just have a long discussion where multiple posters explained, at length, that Frankenstein was the scientist and the creation was a nameless MONSTER? Perfectly legit answer.

If one solves in pen and wrote in ALUCARD before noticing SPAD, there is no real way to leave the squares appropriately blank. I think I will color them in completely black, now.

Beer Rating: Dia de los Muertes Porter. "Smooth, chocolate and roast notes."

wordie 8:56 AM  

As usual I met defeat through over thinking the problem. Never considered entering alucard, but thought some description of the nothingness had to go in. I thought the forecast could be snowy, added an s to ims and the grad cap and not even the SPA could deter me. I was so sure that the last square of 57D would be a sort of rebus, space, empty space, blank, or whatnot. So, DNF. I don't comment here often because when I come most has already been said, but I so enjoy this bunch and the chuckles you all provide me every time I'm here. Happy Halloween! My birthday is tomorrow. The day of the dead.

joho 9:00 AM  

I was hoping for a real Halloween treat today and wasn't disappointed. Thank you, David Kwong, for a super clever, frightfully fun puzzle!

loren muse smith 9:10 AM  
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Bob Kerfuffle 9:16 AM  
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Bob Kerfuffle 9:18 AM  

Nice trick!

I figured out the likely joke well before I got to the bottom of the grid, but I wasn't sure how it would be represented. So my one wrong entry came with 44 D, Where I thought EUGENE O might signify Oregon (although I guess the single letter O is traditionally only used for Ohio). (Can't call it a write-over - How do you write over a letter with nothingness?)

BTW, anyone who was tempted to enter ALUCARD should know that that name has been used many times for a separate character, as noted by href = "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alucard">Wikipedia, something I learned in trying to solve an old Matt Gaffney meta.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:22 AM  

So why can't I embed Wikipedia?

Pete 9:49 AM  

Apropos of nothing, but while I'm averse to recreational hunting that White Tail buck in full rut out back, while a magnificent beast, is nothing but a monomaniacal rapist terrorizing the does and fawns in my woods and deserves to be shot.

loren muse smith 9:59 AM  
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loren muse smith 10:01 AM  

Bravo, David. Finally erasing (back atcha, @jae) the ALUCARD was so PREMIUMly satisfying!

@Carola – great catch on the LUNE/WOLFMAN cross. I just noticed the WIMP crossing both WOLFMAN and MONSTER.

Until I sorted out a huge mess I had just south of EUGENE with "lass" for LOCH and "ort" for OAT (the mysterious "Ft. Smits" straightened me out), I thought I actually would not finish.

TACIT is just a great word.

Two articles: THE and EINE. And if you squint, GLOSSY and LUNE.

Ok – the puzzle is terrific, but you *have* to watch the clip of David that r.alphbunker embedded. Un. Be. Liev. Able.

ありがとう, David!

Nancy 10:01 AM  

Since I didn't know Dracula had no reflection, I wrote in ALUCARD in the last Across Clue, then said Whaaaaaa???? With everything else so easy, I DNF and had to look up the answer here. Very clever -- but you do have to know a lot more about Dracula than I know!

jberg 10:06 AM  

Yes, the DRACULA non-reflection was fund, and since I didn't figure it out until the end it made the puzzle more satisfying than it would have been -- but the other reflected themes were annoying; only NAM FLOW could have been clued as itself (cute name for river in SE Asia).

What would have justified it would have been if all the SE downs ended with space, void, blank, etc. -- isn't there a book or movie named THE VOID, for example? That, I would have liked.

I didn't think of this until I read @Questinia, but I think the vertical black bars in the N and S are the mirrors, labeled as such by the central theme answer.

Late for work, so that'll have to do!

chefbea 10:13 AM  

Fun puzzle but I too did not know that dracula couldn't see himself in a mirror so DNF Had to come here.

I think we have had enough of writing answers from right to left!!!!

Sandy K 10:30 AM  

This was soooo much fun!!
Absolutely loved the trick at the end!

Great puzzle, Mr. Kwong!

LastDukeStKing 10:46 AM  

While not difficult, this may be the least satisfying (ok, worst) puzzle ever!

Questinia 10:47 AM  

@ r.alphbunker. Dracula owns a mirror because he has a fabulous sense of Fang Shui. Also so sundry damsels can preen and admire their jugulars as countie-poo sneaks up from behind and...

@ jae. I got Mr. Happy Pencil on this one by leaving the squares blank. If I don't get Mr. Happy Pencil I check for incorrect squares, if none show up I conclude the puzzle is correctly filled and Mr. Happy Pencil is having another one of his "spells".

@ Carola you are the doyenne of topographical associations. Clearly LUNE/WOLFMAN is not coincidental.

@lms re SWEDISH FISH. Have you ever had SWEDISH worms? Or skum? I love skum. I think medicine became socialized in Sweden just to defray the cost of the national dental decay associated with addictive candies. Salt lakris!

@ tita I can't stop thinking of your mother's shrimp in bechamel.

John V 10:52 AM  

Cute, but never got it. Big DNF.

Horace S. Patoot 10:55 AM  

I thought it was a fantastic puzzle. It exploited the fact that most people solve top to bottom, and once they see a theme, they automatically fill in the theme answers. Thank you Mr. Kwong, for giving me a little surprise appropriate for Halloween!

r.alphbunker 11:07 AM  

Are we supposed to not write in DRACULA backwards.

The following joke comes to mind:

Sartre once ordered a coffee with sugar but no cream. The waitress came back and told him that they were out of cream and asked if it was okay to have it without milk.


@Questina :-)

Glimmerglass 11:22 AM  

It took me WAAAAY too long to get the punchline! I started by trying to think of a synonym for "invisible" for 65 across. Finally came up with "not seen," which of course didn't work. At the same time, I was trying to think what the other evil creatures would look like in a mirror -- didn't think of writing the words backwards (kind of lame solution?) for the longest time. Finally got that, but ALUCARD didn't work any better than NOT SEEN. It finally hit me that this is a joke (10-year-old level), and I was done. The entertainment value of this little joke was probably not worth the time I spent on it.

loren muse smith 11:24 AM  

@Questinia - I know, right? The candy they eat over there is remarkable. And with their meatballs, they serve spaghetti noodles covered in ketchup, which I told the family I was visiting that this is just plain wrong. ;-)

@r.alphbunker - I just saw that joke among fifty intellectual jokes.

jokes

My favorites are #3, 17, 26, 29, 35, and 50!

nona 11:32 AM  

I do believe @Questinia is correct!

The 4 black squares above and below MIRRORS constitute the two MIRRORS. Hence the plural.

r.alphbunker 12:16 PM  

@Loren
Thanks for the link.

5, 8, 11, 18, 25, 42, 45

This reminds me of another joke.

A woman walks into a room and sees two robots. One robot speaks a number which causes the other robot to laugh. Then the other robot speaks a different number and the first robot laughs. It turned out this was this as an experiment in artificial humor. Each robot had a number of jokes in its database and used the number to look it up and read it.

Alucard 12:22 PM  

Very cute Halloween treat of a puzzle!

I guess my inner 10-year old lapped it up!

Numinous 12:48 PM  

@ Atria Casa Motnahp:
I have a photograph of my step daughter holding a koala. She's studying at the University of New South Wales in Sydney this year. I have to say that I'm very proud of her. She's also bunjee jumped, sky dived, snorkled (she's afraid of fish in the water) and, for a girl who only likes chicken and pizza, she's eaten emu, crocodile, and kangaroo along with trying lots of other things she wouldn't have here in Georgia. I'm proud of her because she decided that while she had this opportunity to live in a different culture she was not going to regret not trying new things and learning everything she could while she was there.

I loved the joke with ALUCARD. I submitted on Magmic with blanks which looked great to me but then tried "O"s which made sense. I found the "X"s after looking here so technically a DNF for me. The tricks provided a treat for me and all without eggs or TP.

Nick 12:53 PM  

Loved the puzzle, thought it was brilliant and lots of fun. Completely disagree with Rex, who sounds a bit school marmish this morning. ;)

AliasZ 1:11 PM  

Robert Weston Smith (1938–1995) was a gravelly voiced American disc jockey, famous in the 1960s and 1970s. He is better known as WOLFMAN Jack.

I bet David Kwong would have preferred "werewolf" to WOLFMAN, but that would've made it a 17x grid. The DRACULA/XXXXXXX could have still worked with two additional black squares on both ends of the row.

I would've loved to see "The Invisible Man" -- all blanks -- worked into the grid somehow as a center 15 span. Now that would be a real trick, David, with or without MIRRORS! How about that for next Halloween?

I missed basilisk, behemoth, bigfoot (sasquatch), Cyclops, dragon, gargoyle, gorgon, Godzilla, Gryphon, incubus and succubus, King Kong, leviathan, megalodon, mothman, mummy, Scylla and Charybdis, gill-man, zombie, yeti, and of course, Mr. Hyde and Freddy Krueger. And oh, so many others.

Are you scared yet?

For a musical theme, "The Night on Bald Mountain" or "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" would work well, but these are too commonplace. Let us instead enjoy this work attributed to the oddest of J.S. BACH's 20-odd children, P.D.Q. Bach, titled EINE kleine Nichtmusik.

Trick or treat!

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Not so much sticky as smelly. But very cute.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:41 PM  


Luv the punchline. It was totally worth the trip. thUmbsUp.

Oddly, in The correct solution, one letter of DRACULA does actually reflect over to the other side successfully.

WOLFMAN, MONSTER, PHANTOM, DRACULA. Seems a little like the set: GHOST, GOBLIN, GHOUL, MITT. Or at least, like: LIZARD, SNAKE, NEWT, MITT. But, hey -- it's Trickertreat: the season of throw it in the bag and move on.

Happy Hall-U-ween, @4-Oh. May all yer fiendishiest dreams come true. Except for that ScarJo one.

M&A

AliasZ 1:52 PM  

@r.alphbunker, the way I heard that joke some 50 years ago goes something like this:

Lifers in a prison yard entertain themselves by telling jokes. After many years they knew over 100 jokes, so they decided to number them. Instead of telling each joke every time, they just called them by number:

17 - followed by a roar of laughter.
5 - another wave of laughter and knee slapping.
39 - even louder roar and slapping each other on the shoulders.
386 - followed by dead silence, crickets chirping in the background.

About 2 minutes later one prisoner starts laughing, jumping up and down, slapping his knees, laughing so hard he can barely catch his breath. When he finally does, one of his buddies asks him: "What the hell's the matter with you, why are you laughing so hard?"
"This is the first time I heard that one."

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

Super payoff. Thanks Puzzle Maker!

Tita 2:50 PM  


@r.alph - why would Dracula own a mirror? WHat a great question! Hmmm... ANd are we making a terrible assumption here...mayeb Dracula can see himself, but it's mere mortals that cannot see him...

@Questinia and the veggietarians from yesterday - neither can I - I plan on enticing her into helping me make a batch this weekend - she's 90, and is still a master chef! We will use shrimps, but I guess I knwo htat vegetarians actually have many many reasons for their choices.

@r.alph & @lms - re: the joke - this is also a MUST READ:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1519042/posts
I encountered it in one of my favorite books, "Letters of a Nation".


But I digress...

Loved the trick, loved the puzzle - Happy Halloween Mr. Kwong!!

long suffering mets fan 3:13 PM  

For me, the wonderful nuance of the trick far outweighs the less than stellar fill

Well done, Mr. Kwong

Lewis 3:23 PM  

@Q -- great Fang Shui line!

Happy Halloween, all! I didn't know about Dracula not having a reflection, so I was flummoxed. But I love the concept, and it is so good, I think it easily outweighs the puzzle's weaknesses.

Learned ARIGATO, seems like something I need to know. Enjoyed the solve -- thanks, David!

I like METIME crossing INUTERO.

I also like CAP crossing MOTNAHP (just kidding).

gifcan 3:29 PM  

I was enjoying the mirror-image answers and then got to the SE corner. I entered ALUCARD and then couldn't make any sense of the rest of the corner.

Something's going on here! The revealer for me was EUGENE. I lived in the Northwest and it was the only answer that I could come up with. I wrote it in, erased ALUCARD and then sailed through.

A very delightful finish.

sanfranman59 3:29 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 20:19, 16:44, 1.21, 83%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 13:58, 9:30, 1.47, 92%, Challenging

Since it wasn't at all clear what one was supposed to enter for DRACULA's reflection, I don't think today's online solve times are very useful for gauging the difficulty level of this puzzle. (I was somehow supposed to know to enter XXXXXXX??? Yeesh!) I finished the puzzle in well under my usual Thursday time, but never did manage to post a time because of that "answer".

JFC 4:13 PM  

Maybe it was Rex's interest in the World Series but I thought he would take this opportunity to rant against the lack of NYT technology. Across Lite failed. X's are not blanks....

JFC

mac 5:30 PM  

Brilliant puzzle - and I also wrote in Alucard.... Didn't know about Dracula's mirror problem. Still a lot of fun and very clever.

Lots of little dressed up kids coming by, and they all take just one piece of candy, even the older ones. Some amazing outfits on 7th Avenue in Chelsea!

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

I want to say thanks to this great man called Dr Samura who helped me in my marriage life. my name is Sarah Hasbarger lives in USA memphise so i was married to Albert we both love and like each other before our marriage, he care about my well being so i was so happy that i have found a man like this in my life my parents love him so much because of his kindness towards me and the way he care about me after four years in my marriage, no child he was not showing me much care anymore but i notice something is going on which i no. then i keep on with the relationship and i was hoping one day God will open my way to have a child in my home then i keep on going to church from one play to another by telling all the pastors about my problems that i don't have a child so many of them promise me that soon i we have a child in my home i keep on hoping in God's miracle on till one day when i went for a visit in my friend office then i was welcome by my friend we started dis causing about so many things on marriage life i was so shock she ask me about my wedding and what is going on till now i still don't have a child then i told her my dear sister i don't no what to do anymore and am scared of loosing my husband who have be caring for me for a long time now then she said i we not loosing him i ask how? then she said there is one man called Dr Samura who help in a relationship then i keep on asking how about him she told me this man can do all thing and make things possible i never believe her for once that this man she is talking about can do it so fast. also i ask her how do i get his contact she said i should not worry my self then she gave me his contact email ID and his number to contact him i said ok i will try my best to do so she wish me the best of luck in life then i went home gotten home, found that my door is open i was scared thinking so many things i don't no who is in my house now i look at the key in my hand i was thinking i did not lock my door shortly a word came into my mind that i should go inside and check if there is any body at home or my husband getting inside, i found that my husband move away his things in the house then i started calling his number refuses to pick i was like a mad Dog i cried and cried don't no what to do then i remember to that a friend of mine gave me a contact today i take my computer i emailed this man called Dr Samura also i called him on his cell phone which i received from my friend he spoke to me very well and i was happy my husband we come back to me so after the work was well done by Dr Samura, just in three days i heard my phone ringing not knowing it was my husband telling me his sorry about what he did to me then i accepted him again a month later, i was pregnant for him so i rest my testimony till i deliver safely i we give the best testimony again so my sisters and brothers if you are in such pain kindly contact this great man with this email SAMURATELLERSPELL100@YAHOO.COM OR CALL +2348103508204

Questinia 6:07 PM  

@ lms, but nothing is worse than lutfisk which I endured every X-mas eve. It is like your worst cold on a plate with cream sauce. Spaghetti and ketchup is manna in comparison.

NYer 6:11 PM  

Really enjoyed this one. Like theothers, i wrote in ALUCARD, then NOIMAGE, then decided to leave it blank and considered it done.

I think Rex didn't get any Halloween treats.

chefbea 6:12 PM  

No trick or treaters yet!!

Tita 6:14 PM  

@Rex,,,
I don't get your ding...
"...in a mirror the letters would be flipped ..."

Well, in my app, they are...!!
Mirror images

Anonymous 6:37 PM  

As many did, I put in the backward DRACULA, finally figuring out something was amiss when the obvious EUGENE and SPA and SNOW made no sense.. Spelling SWEEPEA with an e at the end didn't help, either. But I fanally managed to finish with some pride intact. A clever Haloween puzzle and fit for a Thursday.

Anonymous 7:03 PM  

Rex, are you the only guy who gets witch doctor spam on Halloween?

-MAS

Z 7:35 PM  

1,300+ pieces of candy. All gone by 7:20. This on a warm but very wet Halloween.

dk 8:02 PM  

Burp. Candy good!

I left 65a blank and assert i am correct.

My paper puzzle did not unhappy pencil me or otherwise snicker at my candy corn milk dud answer from mars. I am twixed.

Must find vegtables.

d as in dracula k

Rob C 8:09 PM  

nuf elzzup divad

@Z - I had exactly 22 trick or treaters. it rained in NE Penn too

mac 8:29 PM  

Opened the door and handed out candy to many little kids, then put the sweets bucket outside our door. Ten minutes later some kids took the whole lot. No Almond Joys this evening.

chefbea 8:41 PM  

We had 8 trick or treaters. Puzzle husband will eat the rest if the Kit Kats

michael 8:52 PM  

I thought this was wonderful. Worked perfectly for me with my aha moment coming at the very end.

August West 9:15 PM  

This was a really, really easy puzzle. Got the gimmick, or at least the fact that 8A was 1A backwards, on entering WOLFMAN off the W in WIMP, and finding all 7 crosses dangling from 8A Monday easy. WIMP simultaneously gave up MONSTER, as, being a huge classic horror film buff, I knew Karloff's "Frankenstein" was: a) released by Universal; b) in 1931. Didn't realize what the two creatures were "in" until I dropped to the center to figure out 23D. MIRRORS was a quick get from its easy crosses (other than MISER, the clue for which i'd never heard, but which also became readily inferable as a few of its easy crosses dropped). After that, PHANTOM and DRACULA played fast, and the rest of the fill was pretty much Monday-Tuesday-esque. Realizing SNOW and CAP and EUGENE and THE and SPA *had* to be correct reminded me that, oh, yeah, vampires don't see their reflection. Erased alucard, like everyone else, and left it blank. Magmic wouldn't accept it, but screw Magmic. Left me with a l'il grin. Not the "best aha moment ever" experienced by many. I guess I was off-put by the time I reached the bottom of a "Thursday" NYT at warp speed. Didn't hate it. Thought it was cute, but waaaaaaaaaaaay too simple for the day of the week I most look forward to having my socks knocked off with cleverness and humor.

Captcha: WIMPye

August West 9:19 PM  

8 trick or treaters. 1,300 left over pieces of candy. 1 seriously tempted dad.

retired_chemist 9:55 PM  

Zero T or T'ers, as ecxpected, and one bag of Hershey's Miniatures. I suspect it will be put to good (bad?) use over the next week or two.

ahimsa 9:58 PM  

This was a fun puzzle but pretty easy for a Thursday. Maybe that was meant as a Halloween treat. :-) I'm on the west coast so we're right in the midst of the biggest rush of trick or treaters right now.

I didn't write in ALUCARD because I guessed it was a trick. But at first I thought the DRACULA reflection was going to be some 7-letter equivalent for invisible. But the blank squares were cute!

@AliasZ, loved your list of MONSTERs!

sanfranman59 10:50 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:13, 6:07, 1.18, 97%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 201 Mondays)
Tue 7:16, 8:15, 0.88, 16%, Easy
Wed 11:06, 9:44, 1.14, 81%, Challenging
Thu 20:04, 16:44, 1.20, 81%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:16, 3:46, 1.13, 91%, Challenging
Tue 4:36, 5:09, 0.89, 13%, Easy
Wed 6:15, 5:37, 1.11, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 13:11, 9:30, 1.39, 89%, Challenging

Anonymous 11:38 PM  

There are several old (very bad) horror movies that use the motif of spelling Dracula backwards, at least one of which I saw as a kid back in the UK. Check theIMDB.

So that made me think that the bottom mirror image was correct, and all the rest were BS!

spacecraft 10:43 AM  

100% what OFL said. Way too many concessions for the cute denouement. The center is diced into threes, and we have to put up with three nonsense words (actually, NON-words) to get to the payoff.

Yeah, the whole joke was a good one, but not worth the rest. One minor plus: symmetrical cities at 4 and 44-d. As for the writeover, doing it in ink as I do, I simply blacked out the squares. After all, doesn't the Dracster preen at night?

captcha= ackett: A Cockney comic reminiscent of Lou Costello, who at one time met Frankenstein ('s MONSTER). "Ch...! Ch...! Ch-Ch-CH...!" ... "CHICK!!!"

Solving in Seattle 3:00 PM  

If you haven't gone to the link in @ralphbunker 8:19 and seen David Kwong do his magic, get ready to have your mind blown.

Also, David, I thoroughly enjoyed this puz. OHYES!

oNorder before INUTERO: only write over, but SLOGed to solve cuz it took me a while to decode the Rosetta Stone.
I know Lon Chaney was WOLFMAN, so when I got MIRRORS, I was wondering what Chaney's role in the film "Mirrors" was. Finally saw NAMFLOW emerge and said "aha" loudly.

Down South, DRACULA was a gimme and wrote in ALUCARD. (I have never seen or read a vampire movie or book, so I had no idea they cannot see their image in a MIRROR.) Then couldn't make any sense of the SE. Finally figured it HAD to be EUGENE-; HAD to be SPA/THE/CAP/PASTE/SNOW... so I just ignored 65A. When I came to Rexville I saw that I had done the correct thing, for a reason I couldn't suss out.

The version of the number joke I heard was the prisoners were calling out numbers and everyone would crack up, then one guy called out "84" and no one laughed. A new guy in the yard asked a lifer why nobody laughed. The lifer turned to him and said "that guy doesn't know how to tell a joke."

capcha: stemnyt. An attempt to censor the New York Times?

LongBeachLee 3:06 PM  

In Son of Dracula http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_Dracula_%281943_film%29 the count used Alucard as an alias.

Ginger 3:10 PM  

So...Dracula doesn't have a reflection, who knew, not me. But, even though I was flummoxed, I enjoyed the journey and thanx to you all, I can now appreciate the joke.

@r.alphbunker and @AliasZ
Lifers in a prison yard telling jokes by the number.

First Felon - #17 followed by hugh laugh
Another Con - #5 another huge roar
Newbie Con - #23 dead silence....

Newbie sez "What Happened?"
First Felon sez "Some can tell em, Some can't"

This is another time when you all are as fun as the puzzle.

Ginger 3:13 PM  

@SIS Sorry, I was typing as you were posting!

DMG 3:23 PM  

Not a Dracula fan, so didn,t get the gimmick, and thus, no finish for me. Just figured the SE was really hard because all the down answers I could think of were too short (head slap here!). But the rest was kind of fun once I got the "not real people" idea. On to Friday!

Solving in Seattle 3:39 PM  

@Ginger, you tell a joke better than I do.

Dirigonzo 4:16 PM  

To OFL and those who agree with his pan of the puzzle, "I beg to differ" - NOTSO. This was a fun Halloween (5 weeks after) puzzle with a a minimum of drek and a punchline that blew me away!

To echo @SiS, if you skipped over this link
do yourself a favor and check it out now - it will give you a new appreciation of the enormous talent of David Kwong!

Waxy in Montreal 5:04 PM  

Fully understand how this puzzle morphed from EASY-MEDIUM (OFL's rating) to CHALLENGING (as per @sanfranman59) as I raced through it thinking "this is way too easy for a Thursday) before falling deadweight into the 65A trap. Knew EUGENEO placed it in Ohio so entered EVERETT which brought my solving to a grinding halt.

Still, since I know all about DRACULA, can't blame the talented Mr. Kwong for the smoke and MIRRORS in this grid. In fact, on further reflection, perhaps it should be attributed a XXXXXXX rating.
=================================
RIP - Nelson Mandela (1918-2013).

Anonymous 5:07 PM  

Absolutely brilliant puzzle with a neato finish. Mr. Kwong, in my book, is a genius and undeserving of the negative aforementioned jabs. Looking forward for more of Mr. Kwong's work.

Ron Diego, 2:05 PM PST

P.S. I've been doing puzzles for over 60 years.

Red Valerian 12:56 AM  

Loved it. And that clip (re-posted by @Dirigonzo--thanks!) is totally amazing.

Fun week. (In crosswords, that is--I'm avoiding marking essays as I type. I mean, I am typing while I should be marking essays... oh, the humanity...)

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Great aha moment when the punchline finally hit me. To lazy (and late for work) to post the link, but "Mirror Star" by the Fabulous Poodles comes to mind.

Cary in Boulder 4:01 PM  

Quoth my non-puzzling bride, in regard to those who didn't know about Dracula: "What's wrong with them? Vampires don't have reflections!" So there.

I thought it was a great punchline.

ALEDNAM NOSLEN PIR
(the antidote to monsters)

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