Battler of Hector in Iliad / WED 10-31-18 / CIA infiltrator during Cold War / Groups that typically meet weekly for lunch / Image on ancient mariner's map

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Easy to Easy-Medium (3:44)

THEME: CRYPT (67A: Resting place hinted at by 28-, 5-, 45-, 9- and 31-Across) — circled squares in themers are homophones of letters that, together, spell CRYPT, i.e. SEA (C), ARE (R), WHY (Y), PEA (P), TEA (T)

Theme answers:
  • SEA SERPENT (28D: Image on an ancient mariner's map)
  • ARE WE GOOD? (5D: "Do you still like me?")
  • WHY ME? (45D: "What did I do to deserve this?")
  • PEA GRAVEL (9D: Walkway option in lieu of paving)
  • TEA BISCUIT (13D: Serving at a 4:00 social)
Word of the Day: PEA GRAVEL (9D) —
gravel that consists of small, rounded stones used in concrete surfaces. Also used for walkways, driveways and as a substrate in home aquariums. (wikipedia)
• • •

Here's a good example of trying to do too much. What might have been a reasonable Halloween-type thing goes all to hell with the mixed-message Jesus stuff. Is the cross supposed to be just ... a gravestone? A tombstone? Is this a graveyard? Why is it Christian? If I'm not supposed to take it as Christian, then why is is ARAMAIC dead center, right above THEME and CRYPT, and why is "WHY ME?" there, when that's basically just a condensed version of Jesus's words on the cross: "My God, My God, WHY hast thou forsaken ME?" OK, that last one is piling on, but seriously, though, I finished and didn't know what the theme was supposed to evoke, and I *sincerely* thought it had something to do with Jesus. The black-square cross + ARAMAIC sealed the deal. Now Jesus was buried in a tomb, not a CRYPT, per se, but still. The theme evokes Christ far more than it evokes, I don't know, spooky Halloween situation? Also, what is BURY doing there, all coy, like "am I part of the THEME, or am I not, who can say?" (63A: Place underground) You gotta exert better control over your theme material. You want the meaning, the desired effect, to Land. This thing has a cute concept at its core (though I've seen stuff "buried" in grids before, sometimes actually beneath (i.e. off-) grid), but I think the Christ imagery is muddying things. Also, the clue on THEME is bad (62A: Discovering the word at 67-Across, for this puzzle). My "discovering" the CRYPT is the THEME? That's awkward. The CRYPT is the theme. My "discovering" it is neither here nor there. Phrasing!

Five things:
  • 1A: ___ rug (SHAG) — Me: "CUT A!"
  • 27D: Worker in a trauma ward, for short (ER DOC) — sounds more like [Hesitant comment preceding a sensitive question for one's physician]
  • 54D: ___ John (PAPA) — f*** this right-wing pizza guy. Terrible clue. Also, the franchise is "John's," not John. But either way, hell no. 
  • 12D: Truckload at a garbage dump (FILL) — probably not the way I'd clue FILL if I were constructing a puzzle, but ... OK. (note: there was a lot of non-garbage FILL today, particularly "ARE WE GOOD?" and KGB MOLE)
  • 30A: Not self-parked (VALETED) — it's a ... what? What part of speech is this? Use it in a sentence. A non-contrived, normal human sentence. "I had my car VALETED?" Doesn't swap out with the clue very well. "Self-parked" is very strange, since it can suggest both that the driver parked it him/herself, or that the car parked itself. Self-parking cars exist, or so dumb car ads tell me. Anyway, VALETED looks and is weird.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brian 12:04 AM  

And Grave is hidden in Pea Gravel

Harryp 12:13 AM  

Saw the Halloween Theme when I got CRYPT. It took me a while to see 29D GOMORRAH, so that, along with 17D E.R. DOC were my favorites for this one. Solid Wednesday by a regular contributor to the NYT X-words, Bruce Haight.

Bruce Haight 12:40 AM  

Wait a minute - you forgot to mention that GOMORRAH is very biblical, ROSE probably means rose from the dead, and SCENE probably infers a nativity scene. WHY ME is a little iffy, but DEA obviously got a godly clue. This FILL is literally crammed with subtle religious undertones!! :)

TomAz 12:45 AM  

Rex is right about the mixed theme-ing. The cross one could see as a symbol on a crypt, but the ARAMAIC certainly muddied the waters.

But, while solving, I didn't notice this. I plowed through and the plowing was pretty good, really. I enjoyed this puzzle for the most part.

I did wince at PAPA John, not because he's a right-winger, but because he's a known bigot and general a*****e. But, you know, tone-deafness seems to be a thing with the NYT xword lately. Is it because there's too much to keep up with, is it because Will is falling down on the job, or is it because Will doesn't give a whit? I don't think it's political -- CHE the other day clued as 'hero' cuts left -- I think it's something else.

And to issue a pre-emptive rebuttal to whatever Anonymous Trump nitwit rails on this: "political correctness is what's wrong with this country" is simply dumbly-veiled code for "let's be overt racists again."

Oops. sorry.

Anoa Bob 12:52 AM  

I saw the grid art and thought we were going to be treated to a theme about the Rapture or the Resurrection. 29D GOMORRAH seemed to add a little ARAMAIC twist.

Stuff like VALETED can make my solve GO FLAT. TROMPE-l'oeil (fool the eye) and SEA SERPENT picked things back up.

I've used PEA GRAVEL in landscaping. It makes a great mulch for plant beds. It is not good, however, as a "Walk-way option in lieu of paving", as clued. It would be like trying to walk on tiny marbles.

Larry Gilstrap 2:06 AM  

Grid art and funereal imagery are not my favorite things. Add phonetic representations of letters spelling CRYPT in tinted squares and we have a trifecta of annoyance. And another thing! Those corners are just mini-puzzles that really don't offer much. Heavy on the trick and light on the treat.

While solving, I had no quibble with anyone having VALETED their car, but now I'm wondering. My ears are pricked. How on earth did you find a parking space? For years, I would drive all over Hell and stress out to save what? $5! When in Rome.

Allow me; I grew up in a Christian family and a Bible teaching Christian church. The first time I realized that Jesus was an ethnic Jew and that he spoke ARAMAIC was a revelation. Something didn't jibe with my early perceptions and reality. Faith is either adamant or tenuous.

In these dangerous times, I hope ELENA Kagan is safe and secure and that she will celebrate many more Christmases at a Chinese restaurant near her.

okanaganer 2:20 AM  

Yeah, GOMORRAH and ARAMAIC are biblical, and possibly Christian, but Halloween is not, right? SEA SERPENT, ROTARY CLUBS, TEA BISCUIT. So: yay, Halloween!

I bought 250 candy bars, so kids, bring it on!

Coniuratos 2:29 AM  

VALETED would work in British English, but the clue wouldn't - it'd have to be something like "Had cleaned, as a car". And they'd pronounce the T.

But I think Rex might be reading too much into it, and the cross is just a headstone. What other way could you make a distinctive gravestone-shape with crossword squares that isn't just a rectangle or a blob? ARAMAIC is probably just a coincidence.

Thomas 3:14 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle very much. I don’t understand why the cross should bother anybody. Surely most people realize the symbol is appropriate for the holiday. Hallowe’en is the eve of All Saints Day and is as christian in origin as Christmas Eve.

jae 3:25 AM  

Easy-medium. Very clever, liked it, but then I tried not to over think it.

chefwen 3:53 AM  

What @jae said. I rather enjoyed it until I read what Rex had to say, then I started picking it apart, shouldn’t have gone there.
There were a few scary things in the puzzle, AGASP, CUJO OBIT, BURY, I guess you could throw TAX LAWS in the mix.

Growing up we always called our BISCUITs, Bickies.

Liz Gorski has a fun Halloween puzzle in her weekly offering, loaded with Halloween bits and you get to draw a great image on it when finished. Loved it!

ZenMonkey 4:04 AM  

VALETED does look and sound weird, but it's practically quotidian in L.A.

This was all over the place, kind of like the mixed bag you get at the end of trick or treating. Fun, even if all of it isn't to your taste.

Definitely not going to touch "as Christian in origin as Christmas Eve" with a ten-meter cattle prod, but y'all have fun.

Anonymous 5:36 AM  

Nobody sees the Jack-O-Lantern with the creepy smile? It's a halloween theme and the cross is a tombstone.

Lewis 6:09 AM  

The (New Oxford American) dictionary defines CRYPT as follows: an underground room or vault beneath a church, used as a chapel or burial place. So, we have a cross representing the church, and there's the crypt in the underground room. That's good enough for me. I didn't think of the puzzle as a Halloween puzzle. Now I just read Bruce's notes in XwordInfo, and he says [the NYT editors] "wrote to say this CRYPT puzzle was accepted for Halloween, and I had never even thought of that possibility." So there you go. (He also mentions that he does have a Halloween-themed puzzle in today's LAT.)

What I liked best about this puzzle was a group of excellent answers: GO FLAT, NEST EGG, ARE WE GOOD, GOMORRAH, ROTARY CLUBS, and DITTY. Not to mention its four debut answers, KGB MOLE, TAX LAWS, TEA BISCUIT, and VIDEO CAM (and I'm surprised that this last one hasn't been done before).

The cross of DITTY and BRINY brought sea chanteys (also called shanties) to mind, and I did a bit of Wiki reading on that (bless the knowledge-enriching power of crosswords!), and one thing I learned was that there was a type of work that chanties were sung to called "cotton screwing" (a method of compressing cotton bales to fit in the holds of ships). I never heard of cotton screwing before, and I'm guessing neither have most of you, so there's your fact for the day. And thank you Bruce!

JJ 6:20 AM  

I agree with Lewis. I thought this was a spectacular construct. I also believe the puzzle was constructed to honor his son Ryan, who died at age 18 from a Vicodin overdose that he purchased online. You can non longer purchase opiods online. The law, named after his son, has probably saved countless lives.
I'm sure that Bruce knows that the critique was entirely predictable

Tyler Clark 6:38 AM  

Honestly the Christ connection didn’t occur to me at all, but then I don’t teach literature, so I was never very good at picking up on subtext

Dave 6:57 AM  

Yeah, kind of over-reacting on this one, Mikey!!

jberg 7:05 AM  

Thanks, @Bruce! I loved this puzzle.

jberg 7:09 AM  

@Thomas—exactly! You beat me to it.

SJ Austin 7:10 AM  

Just seems like a grave with a cross on it to me; the other biblical stuff just seems to be normal fill. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I picture Bruce Haight gleefully printing out and framing the phrase "a lot of non-garbage FILL today". Nicest thing you've said about one of his puzzles since I started reading! 🙂

Happy Halloween, kiddos!

Anonymous 7:13 AM  


Evidently BH reads these comments, which shows a certain kind of narcissism on his part for giving a sh*t about what anyone may say about his puzzles. Also, he is probably the one that has been mentioned in the past for being persecuted *personally* for having terrible, juvenile grids....which is ironic, given the xtian under/overtones of this particular grid. Persecuted for the faith.

There is nothing more tone deaf here than having a gigantic cross in a puzzle just days after a shooting in a synagogue by a right wing lunatic who, I'm pretty sure, would claim a certain vile form of xtianity as being the ONLY kind of xtianity.

I also like the shout out to Putin's former (or not so former) career in the KGB. I hung out with a couple of guys from Ukraine last summer (both of whom had served in the soviet army) who said more than once, "There is no such thing as former KGB." So, yeah...thanks NYT xword (and BH) for including these guys in a xtian based (religion infused) puzzle. They seem to have more in common than previously thought.

This puzzle was terrible from top to bottom...and yeah, a lot of it had to do with that cross that looks perched atop an altar. Mr Haight, your puzzles are usually cloying and childish...but this one was particularly annoying. This has nothing to do with you and I'm sure you're a nice enough guy. But seriously, this puzzle would fly much better in Christianity Today than in the NYT. And WS, who doesn't read these comments, needs to read this blog and these comments to hear just how terrible many are starting to see his puzzles.

And yeah, I know, I'm posting anonymously. So sue me.

jberg 7:22 AM  

My rug was “area” before SHAG. And then I misread the clue for CUJO as 10A (curse that tiny font). So that would have raised my time, if I had been timing.

Also, I overthought this and considered that maybe the shaded ARE should be read as R for the 5D answer— but PEA GRAVEL set me straight there. I should have looked over the grid and seen the CRYPT down there, but I didn’t.

As for the holiday, of course All Hallows’ Eve is Christian—But there are obviously some Wiccan touches in the contemporary celebration.

In 10 minutes my grandson will get up and want me to read “The Odyssey” to him. Maybe we can do “The Iliad next, so I can learn who fought whom. Good thing I could think of only one 4-letter Greek.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

Today’s puzzle did nothing to explain why yesterday’s ran when it did. This was surely easier than the Tuesday puzzle, and they both fit a Hallowe’en THEME.

I wonder if 31D was originally SEABISCUIT, and the TEA was somewhere else?

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

You must not valet park very often. Q: Where did you park? A: I valeted. Said many, many times, especially in a city like Miami.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

“Did you park across the street?” “No I valeted.” There you go.

Mama Cass 7:44 AM  

John Phillips was known as Papa John.

QuasiMojo 8:14 AM  

All I can say about this one is “Sound a ghost makes” and “Sound a Sea Serpent makes.”

Mary Magdalene 8:20 AM  

Great puzzle thanks Bruce. I appreciate your comment too and I’m glad the hater doesn’t get to you.

mmorgan 8:22 AM  

I struggled a fair amount in the NW and SW but eventually it came together.

I saw the "crypt" containing the word CRYPT but hadn't even noticed the cross -- though it just looks like a tombstone to me. I was thinking that all the comments about the religious elements were reading too much into the puzzle until I read Bruce's statement that "This FILL is literally crammed with subtle religious undertones!! :)". Oh. I should pay more attention to subtext.

@Anon at 7:13 -- Other than that, how'd you like the puzzle?

Debra 8:23 AM  

Very cute! This was a treat. Happy Halloween!

Unknown 8:25 AM  

You're reaction to a cross is very Dracula-like.....hope you have your costume on today!

Jorma 8:27 AM  

The only Papa John I know of is Papa John Creach. I don’t think he was a right winger.

Rainbow 8:30 AM  

Count the "t's" in your post. Each one is a cross. So who's tone deaf now?! You really should have avoided that letter.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

@ Haters and Anonymoids -
Bruce Haight has written about constructing the puzzle. His comments are available in two other, civilized spaces. Reading those, you might know about his son, Ryan (59D), whose name is now on the law prohibiting online sales of opioids, the Ryan Haight Online (49A: RHO) Pharmacy Consumer Protection (54A: PCP) Act. The law, passed to stop people from dying, is currently threatened with a Republican "fix" to help more people die faster. Because money.

Music Man 8:39 AM  

In the iPhone app version, the letter hints in 28, 5, 45, 9, and 31D were shaded, not circled. When all 5 answers were highlighted (to solve 67A), I could not distinguish which shaded letters were the clues.

Joe Welling 8:41 AM  

There's also a rho missing the chi for another Christian symbol.

DevoutAtheist 8:42 AM  

I loved the puzzle, especially the grid art with the cross, crypt, and jack o lantern. Not at all offended by the cross and other christian themes. (We can't all be atheists) In fact the cross is a fantastic symbol for horror in a Halloween theme. A human being is nailed to big piece of wood and left to die of thirst and hunger, which takes a long time--days. How gruesome is that?

Note: Some fundamentalist christian sects deem Halloween to be satanic and participation is forbidden

chefbea 8:45 AM  

Too tough for me!!!!!

Z 8:48 AM  

Yeah, pretty fed up here with “christians” (the small “C” types who cloak their racism in the cross and flag) so I had a bit of a knee-jerk reaction upon opening the paper to the puzzle. It is sad that an entire religion gets tarnished by its own worst elements, but what are you going to do when faith leaders fail to condemn the heinous acts of a violent minority?

The puzzle is fine in most regards. The solve was fair and there are some nice answers along the way. The spelling out of letters is a little too cutesy for my taste, but there have been other times where I’ve found that charming so I can hardly fault the constructor there. I do agree with Rex on getting control of theme elements if you really want to land a Halloween theme, but since Haight was not going for a Halloween theme that’s not his fault.

As for VALETED, this usage is certainly in keeping with people turning nouns into verbs and I’ve heard it. I do wonder, though, if citing Miami and L.A. meets Rex’s demand for an example in a “normal human sentence.” The usage does evoke a certain 1%ism to my ears.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Does nobody else see a skull?

ghthree 8:55 AM  

It seems that Anonymous (posting at 7:13) can never be satisfied:
Bruce Haight reads these comments, so he's narcissistic.
Will Shortz doesn't read them, so he's out of touch.
What would satisfy "Anonymous"?

I agree with JJ's post at 6:20. More than adequate justification for the puzzle.

As for the timing, neither Shortz nor Haight is responsible for the Pittsburgh atrocity.
These puzzles are usually scheduled and distributed well in advance. Especially for a special day like Halloween. The die had probably already been cast by the time of the attack.

RooMonster 9:06 AM  

Hey All !
SEAAREWHYPEATEA. Is that OOXTEPLERNON's doppelganger? Har.

Nice Halloween-THEMEd-puz-that-wasn't-meant-for-Halloween puz. Sometimes the SCENE just falls into place.

area-SHAG, leer-OGLE, pad-BRA (TAMPON flashback), ante-PONY, ohm-RAP, SaNK-SUNK.

Side note to Bruce: How do you get your puzs consistently published? I've been trying for a while now, and while I'm sure I'm not as good a constructor as you, well, I think some of my puzs are good. Let me in on your secret. :-) Also, how many puzs do you submit?

@pablonh, Congrats on your Red Sox. As much as I hate (yes, absolutely loathe) the lying, cheating Pats, I have no animus toward Baseball. And as a shout-out to you:

Also, ROO. :-)


Hungry Mother 9:13 AM  

Out of the hospital with a heart monitor patch. Solving on my iPad much easier than my iPhone, which I had to use fof a couple of days; Nice little THEME today on an easy Wednesday. Happy to be home.

Pam 9:15 AM  

Really, VALETED isn’t a 1% thing, even hospitals have valet parking and it’s free.

GILL I. 9:22 AM  

Two things I learned today: You don't pronounce the T in VALETED and that PAPA JOHN is a racist. Que fun.
I saw the cross in the middle but if you squint it looks like Ronald McDonalds face.
Now to discuss the puzzle. I thought it was cute. I also didn't feel it was Halloweeny at all. Yesterday's puzzle should have run today me thinks.
My John at 54D was Dear then Pope. I don't eat fast food chain American pizzas because they taste greasy and speaking of God, awful. Hence, Mr. PAPA was lost on me. Then @REx goes and calls him a right-wing pizza guy and so I looked it up and I guess this John Schnatter guy is a piece of work. Did anyone else have ANTE instead of PONY? Anyway, that last little SW corner was the only thing holding me up. I would've preferred the Pope then we could have gone with the religious THEME.
Did you know that Halloween originated in Ireland? I was in Dublin during a Halloween fete. Talk about fun. They take their entertainment very seriously and you can thank the Potato Famine for bringing Trick or Treaters to our shores. They probably sang to "cotton screwing" on their way here.
Thanks, Bruce, for a nice bit of entertainment.

Old Timer 9:24 AM  

The whole VALETED and Buttled nonsense was thoroughly adjudicated here about a decade ago. Please pay attention and stop plowing the same fields.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

I got to "Not self-parked" and thought, "I hope it's not VALETED, because that would be awful." I refused to enter VALETED until the crosses gave me no choice. But, much worse than VALETED was the clue for THEME!!!! Halloween tricks, I say! BOO!

Z 9:32 AM  

Wow. I just read Haight’s comments over at If you’re going to lie maybe remember the lie and who you wrote it to. Maybe there’s an honest explanation or maybe it was just intended as a polite white lie, but I’ve never understood why people don’t learn that saying nothing is better than white lies. Why not a simple, “the puzzle doesn’t meet our needs at this time?” Haight doesn’t seem upset by it, so maybe there are mitigating factors he didn’t share. As he wrote his comments, though, calls into question basic editorial honesty over at the NYTX.

@Pam - And people at the hospital are busy discussing how they had their cars VALETED? I thought using the subject “The usage” clearly indicated that I was discussing how the usage was elitist. And, of course, it might not be elitist everywhere. Where the options are using a valet or circling for an hour looking for a parking spot, discussing valeting one’s car may become quotidian. And, of course, the really wealthy arrive in limousines so would never discuss the issue. Nevertheless, “I VALETED the car,” sounds elitist here.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Bruce Height should sue you for libel. There's no proof he lied about anything. You're a creep.

Why the gratuitous Christian bashing? Oh yeah, you're a bigot when it comes to Christianity.

@Bruce Height,
Nice puzzle. A pleasure to solve. Thank you.

RAD2626 9:54 AM  

Clever, timely, well-constructed puzzle with lots of great evocative features. One of my favorites from this prolific constructor. Four of the five phonetic clues were terrific: TEABISCUIT, SEA SERPENT, ARE WE GOOD and PEA GRAVEL. SEABISCUIT could have started CRYPT but TEA SERPENT doesn't exactly scan.

ArtO 10:01 AM  

Both the construction and the critique were over the top. Kudos for the constructor who managed to cram so much theme related into the puzzle. Blogger, as always, a bit too sensitive...but, it's his forum and his right. No-one says we have to agree.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

I didn't need the revealer, and hadn't yet seen it, when I confidently wrote in CRYPT. Because of the gray squares, I noticed ARE, PEA, SEA, TEA and WHY as I filled them in. As anagrams go, this was the easiest one imaginable. I didn't need 67A to tell me where the theme answers were to be found or in what order to write them in. I'd say: either gray squares or the clue at 67A -- but you don't need both.

I liked this well enough, but with two exceptions. I'm not sure which entry I dislike more: ERDOC or VALETED. (Is the latter any relation to filleted?) Other than that, a serviceable Wednesday.

Steve 10:14 AM  

It’s a cathedral with a crypt below

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

I'll go further; you're not just a creep, you're an insensitive bully.
You realize that 59 down is a tribute to Mr. Haight's son who died far too young, right?

I am curious. What is the lie you accuse Mr. Haight of?

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

I immediately thought “Papa John “ Philllips. Mamas and the Papas. Liked it.

Reasonablewoman 10:31 AM  

Rex did not bash christianity. He simply commented on the christian content of the puzzle.

Peter P 10:37 AM  

Cute puzzle, a bit easy. Finished it well under my average Wednesday time and under this week's Tuesday. VALETED is certainly a word I've used and heard used. I don't understand the nitpicks about it. Sure, it looks weird, but it's part of at least my American dialect. I work a lot of events, and the coordinator will often ask me, verbatim, "Did you get your car valeted?" (pronounced VAL-AID.) It's completely unobjectionable and colloquial to my ears, but your dialect may vary.

I'm not a fan of unchecked squares in crosswords, so that's the only thing that irked me a little bit about this puzzle. I managed to fill in CRYPT as my final answer and get the congratulations screen on my iPad app before I could even figure out how it connected to the theme answers. It took me about a good two or three minutes after solving the puzzle to have my "well, duh!" moment. (I somehow didn't notice the shaded/circled parts of the theme answers.)

But overall, a fun, if a bit easy for a Wednesday, fill for me.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

@Tom Az: I’m no Trumpkin but your analogy would be apt if Papa John had been clued as a hero. He wasn’t . I know nothing about this Papa John guy. I just thought it was the name of a pizza company I never knew there was an actual person, I’ll take your word for it that there is such a person and he’s a racist. That shouldn’t exclude him, especially if he’s clued neutrally. Same goes for Che, Mao, etc.

PhilipArtGlass 10:47 AM  

Agreed. For Chrissake, give Haight props for cleverness and entertainment. I fight the Xian Right whenever appropriate, but now ain't the time for your tears.
Lighten up haters!

Pete 10:50 AM  

@Anon 10:16, 9:23, etc. Establishing facts before you accuse someone of libel or being an insensitive bully is, in general, a good thing. What @Z was referring to as a "lie" was the fact that Will rejected a specific Halloween puzzle of Bruce's because they already had a Halloween puzzle for 2018. A few months later they accepted this puzzle of Bruce's as their 2018 puzzle. See the lie here? By Will? Not by @Z? It's really not that hard.

You just have to be committed to being a decent human being. That's all.

Nancy 10:58 AM  

Nice one, @Quasi (8:14)!

JC66 11:04 AM  


Reading your 9:32 comment, I thought you were calling @BH a liar.

@Pete 10:50

Thanks for explaining it was @Will Shortz @Z was referring to.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

My mistake about who was being accused. But I don't see a lie. Editors change their mind all the time.
Not sure who you're implying isn't a decent human being; but I've met Shortz . He seems decent. And I know I am. So go fly a kite.

PhiskPhan 11:17 AM  

On my screen, the word squares that were the hints (sea, are, etc.) were in PALE gray (hardly noticeable) -- and the rest of each clue square was ORANGE! So I was trying to make something our of serpent, we good, etc. I guess it was a black/orange Halloween theme, but it totally threw me off.

Junief 11:19 AM  

Couldn’t see circles on my printed out version, so couldn’t get crypt. Anyone else have that problem?

David 11:32 AM  

Never even saw the cross, saw a jack-o-lantern. Whatever. Yes, Rex, the tomb is in a crypt at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Sepulcher is a synonym of crypt. I like all the discussion about valeted, tells one quite a bit about the people writing, as deconstruction always does. Agree that the clue for theme was odd and found all the references to Christianity interesting but not overwhelming. Perhaps that's because I came to my atheism the honest way and not as a rejection of faith.

Overall a very quick solve and a fun puzzle for me.

Noam D. Elkies 11:38 AM  

Nice Halloween theme (and I don't mind having a different take on it yesterday). Surprised to see "expected" in the clue for 48D:ETA because I thought the E meant "expected", but I see it's actually "estimated".

pabloinnh 11:40 AM  

Goodness, we have a bunch of grumpy primates around today. I for one do not go out of my way looking for reasons to be offended, and thought BH's Halloween effort was fine.

@Roo--thanks for the shout out to the Sox. I'm sitting here watching the duck boat parade. It's nice to see so many people being so happy and enjoying the heck out of what is essentially a meaningless event. I'm just thankful that sports can do this. We need more joy.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  


Don't forget - ARE WE GO(o)D? Yes!

Excellent, entertaining Wednesday!

Thank you.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

@Pete - OTOH, one could read all of Z's posts over the weeks, months and years and know exactly what corner of Rexland he is posting from. Or not.

jb129 11:45 AM  

When I saw it was you, Bruce, I thought "well, this is gonna be tough" but it's Wednesday ....

I loved it - thank you!

Masked and Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Crypt-ic Crosswords! And with the luvly E-W puzgrid symmetry. Enjoyed it.

That cross gridart thingy kinda serves a dual purpose:
* Cross-style tombstone for the crypt.
* Nose for a spooky jack-o-lantern/skull face, hoverin over the crypt/bed, as other commenters have mentioned.

fave fillins, from a giant crop of primo ones: AREWEGOOD [yep indeedy]. SEASERPENT. GOMORRAH. GOFLAT. DITTY. KGBMOLE. CUJO. TAXLAWS.

Yeah, yeah. If U try hard enough, U can tie almost everything in the puz to some interpretation or another of the theme mcguffin. Hardest entries near the SEA-RYPT to do that with, for M&A: XYZ and BRA.

staff weeject picks: ARE. PEA. SEA. TEA. WHY. Are they true weejects? -- it's kinda a gray area, actually...
Honrable mention to BOO, from yesterday, boo-the-way.

Raised-by-the-goblins clue award goes to: {Discovering the word at 67-Across, for this puzzle} = THEME. @RP: yep. A bit weirdish. I reckon the gang at the NYT are just sayin: "Discovering that there isolated word under the bed is what this puzzle is all about".

Thanx for the crypt-ic-ly [see B.H.'s xwordinfo.chen comments] accidental Halloween puz, Mr. Haight. Good job. And real glad RYAN got to make it into yer crossword.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

happy halloween, all U spooks!

Banana Diaquiri 11:50 AM  

too lazy to check all the comments, but...
I'll bet if you look it up (still too lazy), you'll see that CRYPT is an *above ground* tomb. not a grave, which also fits.

Malsdemare 12:05 PM  

Way to go, Bruce, thanks for showing up and being cool! Was Rex overthinking just a tad? I thought it was fun and spooky, and for pity's sake, Halloween is Christian. It’s All Souls' day, the eve of All Saints' Day.

Whew, I feel better. Now to read the rest.

JC66 12:09 PM  


Just finished your LA Times offering and wanted to let you know I enjoyed both puzzles.


Anonymous 12:10 PM  

@Banana proves for the eleventy-millionth time that @Banana is @Bananas.
Look it up, honey, and stop being such a damn, whatevs u r.

QuasiMojo 12:13 PM  

Thank you @Nancy! 10:58am. 😂

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

@Malsdemare - so close but no cigar. All Saints' Day is Nov. 1; All Souls' Day is Nov. 2. All Hallows' Eve, "Hallowe'en" is Oct. 31 because next day is Nov. 1. All Soul's E'en is Nov. 1 because next day is Nov. 2, but - yikes - actual facts and religion gets in the way of idiocy OMG! - Nov. 2 doesn't have an "eve" because Nov. 1's own (proper) evening takes priority. Oh, snap! Real facts get in the way every time. Must be the modern USA! U! S! A! U! S! A! We never let reality stop us here in the U! S! A!

Whitey 12:20 PM  

I love this blog. Please keep it a place where right-wing people, like me, feel welcome. Don’t use the f-word to describe a right-winger. Thanks.

CDilly52 12:33 PM  

Wow. Blogger overboard! First of all, I didn’t even notice the cross (ok dis me for being so atheistic that it just did not register). I typically do not ever ponder the black squares unless directed to by the puzzle itself. Second, what a bizarre stretch for OFL to try to complain that there is too much remligious reference in what he supposed to be a Halloween puzzle. Didn’t even pass through my consciousness that it was supposed to be a “Halloween puzzle.” Just thought the theme was what it was, a puzzle to find the answer CRYPT. WHIKE I am not absolutely certain this should qualify as a “theme,” I did find it made for an enjoyable solve-my ultimate goal. Goal met: got it and thought it was clever when I quickly read “SEA, ARE, WHY, PEA, TEA” to myself. And @ Rex, c’mon, “WHY” is there just to be the ‘Y’ ! Get a grip.

CDilly52 12:38 PM  

Hand up-same problem. Had to write down the clue order and move to a non-theme area to turn off the highlights and see the shaded areas. The app frequently provides such frustrations.

Banana Diaquiri 12:41 PM  

so's yo mama
"In some localities an above ground crypt is more commonly called a mausoleum, which also refers to any elaborate building intended as a burial place, for one or any number of people. "

these days, and around here, above ground is the norm.

Teedmn 12:52 PM  

I'm with the Jack-o-lantern face in the grid group. I never saw the cross until I read Bruce Haight's remarks over as xwordinfo (a bonus, according to him). Condolences on the loss of his son.

Except for jumping onto an "area" rug for 1A, which quickly turned into SHAG like spooky magic (har), this puzzle filled in pretty smoothly, though not quickly for a Wednesday. The GOMO of GOMORRAH stood alone until I could finish up from the bottom. I did turn my nose up a bit at VALETED but otherwise WE're GOOD.

CRYPT, a nicely creepy word, along with BURY and OBIT and the RAP at the seance. I like it, thanks, Bruce Haight.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

See the liberal unease at a reference to Jesus!

Banana Diaquiri 12:54 PM  

and, if you want to see them as far as the eye can see, head to Port-au-Prince:

I did, once, but not just to see the crypts.

kitshef 12:59 PM  

@Z - It's impossible for us (or at least, me) to know what went on chez Will, but I don't think it's unreasonable to suppose that yesterday's puzzle was originally slated for today, and when Will felt he didn't have a good submission for yesterday, he moved that puzzle back a day and picked up Bruce's. May not be the case, but it's plausible, and I'd give the folks at the NYT the benefit of the doubt before reacting so harshly. You don't want to become like the folks who reflexively jumped on you and Rex today.

QuasiMojo 1:01 PM  

The app does seem to have stopped announcing “You are halfway there!” At least mine. Thank God.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Rex. You're off your rocker.
I hope you have another hobby you enjoy. Why spend so much time looking for things to make you miserable? Totally normal, cutesy Wednesday. LET IT BE.

CDilly52 1:12 PM  

Wow. Blogger overboard! First of all, I didn’t even notice the cross (ok dis me for being so atheistic that it just did not register). I typically do not ever ponder the black squares unless directed to by the puzzle itself. Second, what a bizarre stretch for OFL to try to complain that there is too much remligious reference in what he supposed to be a Halloween puzzle. Didn’t even pass through my consciousness that it was supposed to be a “Halloween puzzle.” Just thought the theme was what it was, a puzzle to find the answer CRYPT. WHIKE I am not absolutely certain this should qualify as a “theme,” I did find it made for an enjoyable solve-my ultimate goal. Goal met: got it and thought it was clever when I quickly read “SEA, ARE, WHY, PEA, TEA” to myself. And @ Rex, c’mon, “WHY” is there just to be the ‘Y’ ! Get a grip.

FrankStein 1:35 PM  

@Banana, lots of crypts are underground. Did you never read Tales From the Crypt magazine or see the movie? Plus the Imperial Crypt of the Hapsburgs, which I have visited, is underneath the Capuchin Church in Vienna.

Pete 1:43 PM  

@Anon 11:08 You didn't identify yourself as which of @Anon 10:16 or @Anon 9:23 you were. If you were @Anon 10:16 you're responsible for this: "@Z,I'll go further; you're not just a creep, you're an insensitive bully." If you were @Anon 9:23 you're responsible for this: "@Z, Bruce Height should sue you for libel. There's no proof he lied about anything. You're a creep." You're probably both at once, I don't know.

In either case you were grossly mistaken about what @Z wrote, and you insulted him without basis. I am aware that some people here don't like @Z. Whether you like him or not, he's never been incivil to anyone here that I can recall. It was an atypically unclear post for @Z, but to just assume that your confused reading of the post permits you to insult him is preposterous. If you're making a claim to being a decent human being, when something appears at first glance to be atypical of someone you go back and re-read it, to see if the problem is with your first take, or with what was actually written. You stated that @Z libeled Bruce, that he was a creep and an insensitive bully, without bothering to be sure of your own facts. That hardly seems like a commitment to decency to me.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

@Bananas - honeybunches of crazy - "crypt" shares a root with the word "cryptic" - the root meaning is "hidden", "not on display", "out of sight", "underground", "locked away." The fact that some people who don't want the world to think that they might actually be Dead, even though they be shut up in a Stone House on Dead People Street in the Dead People Development, well, calling that house a "crypt" is just plain Bananas. Should sound just right to you, then.
Mausoleum it all you want. Crypts are under the ground.

Unknown 1:49 PM  

Thomas - clearly you don’t understand the purpose of this blog: it is to let us know each day what we are supposed to be offended by. Rex usually finds about three things that are incredibly racist, right wing and exclusionary. It’s his forte.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

@Z is often uncivil. He disparages anonymous commenters as anonymice.
He calls people Nazis. He disparages politician whos policies he doent like. He uses calumny to cast whole groups of people he disagrees with as not merely incorrect, but immoral. He hurls insults more often than most people change their underwear. Why, he's insulted me on several occasions.

He's a blowhard, an insufferable know-it-all. Hell, today he called Will Shortz a liar with nothing but his own animus and instinct to fuel the claim. That's not civil, it's contemptible.

You're new around here. Do some digging in the archives friend, then get back to us.

GILL I. 2:16 PM  

Thanks for clarifying. I, too, read @Z twice since I wasn't really sure to whom he was referring. But, you are absolutely right, @Z has never been uncivil to anybody. He may be a pain in the arse (insert wink here) but never nasty or otherwise.... to anybody on the blog.
The @Anony's continue to hide and I guess they can say what feels good in their law abiding souls. So often the rhetoric is empty nothingness. I bet it makes them feel good, though.

Anonymous 2:17 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Banana Diaquiri 2:32 PM  

" calling that house a "crypt" is just plain Bananas"

may be, but that quote is from the wiki piece ref-ed by one of you anonymice (and, I think I was the first to use that term; Z and I will have a duel at dawn to decide).

Charley 2:34 PM  

No circles in my NYT app. Made getting the theme impossible.

Cassieopia 2:35 PM  

Wow, the snark is a-flying today! I love this blog and (usually) love all the posters, so I'm going to assume that some are already in their scary Halloween masks and out to mix up a big boiling cauldron of turmoil in honor of the occasion.

How did I love this puzzle? Let me count the ways. o
1) Grid art! Ah, you purists turn your noses up at simpler people like me, who get a thrill simply from a pattern of black squares. And this grid art was wonderful - I saw a skull at first, then the chapel, then the jack-o-lantern, then realized that the CRYPT was under the chapel, and my cup runnethed over.

2) All those nice long symmetrical downs; so symmetrical that they were evenly distributed down, across, and the first three letters (and only three - consistency!) contributed to the final theme. If I was to go as far as Rex, I'd point out the religious significance of trinity but...nah. I prefer to just enjoy the consistency of the patterns.

3) Fun words, such as TIFF and REVUE (so much more elegant and continental than the pedestrian "review" - yes, I know they are two different words with two different meanings, but REVUE still melts my knees). VALETED was a sour note, even though it seems to be a real thing. The airport parking shuttle service I use says, "Are you valet parked?" rather than "Are you valeted?" but hey, this is Philly, and we have been known to be behind the times on some things.

Anyway, I really, really loved this puzzle and got a true kick out of finding the CRYPT at the bottom (originally had "grave" but no happy music for "grave"...and then the penny dropped). This was a memorable and fun Wednesday, and I had such an enjoyable time solving it. Thank you, Mr. Haight!

Bourbon Street 2:41 PM  

The sons of the Biblical Judge Eli pre-deceased him. Heartbreaking. My condolences on the loss of your son, Mr. Haight. Thank you for your efforts to prevent others from losing their loved ones.

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

I only lurk here to get a glimpse of Rex's world which is alien to me.
There was a time when he helped me hone my crossword skills. The blog was filled with humor and education.
Now it has become so strange.
Patriots are not welcome. They are jingoists.
He hates his own whiteness with a fury that is frightening.
White Christians are the bottom of the barrel.
But if you want to unroll your prayer rug and scream Allahu Akbar he will give you a VIP pass and usher you to the front row.
It's all so sad.

GILL I. 3:02 PM  

@Anony 2:14:
I really don't need to speak for not defend @Z. He's quite articulate and capable. However, I will tell you you're wrong.
Both of us started coming to this blog around the same time. 8 years - give or take. I've never seen him hurl an insult at anybody. Does he have strong opinions? You betcha. Can you tell him you think he's wrong? You betcha. All with civility.
On the other's the @Anony's who hurl the caca. Why not? No one knows who you are...Ha ha.
All of us have opinions. All of us. 99% of the bloggers here are civil about discussing them. @Z has taken a ton of abuse and yet I've not once seen him lose his cool. (How do you do that, @Z?).
So Mr. @A 2:14....take that and put it in your pipe.
It's really not hard to be nice. Try it, you might feel good.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

@Anon at 7:13, Christianity didn't commit mass murder in Pittsburgh. Real Christians are grieving. Real Christians are not screaming bigots. Real Christians got a kick out of the September 19th puzzle with the Yiddish theme because it was fun.

What you're confused about is that Fox News and its constant harping that "invaders" are heading for our country in a caravan to perpetrate all sorts of evil has anything to do with ANY religion.

In fact, Fox News wages war on all religions by attempting to pit them against one another. And they are the enemy of America because they and their fake news are aimed at whipping up hatred and decisiveness for their own personal gain. And now that their efforts are taking root in the hateful and mentally unstable and before it worsens, let all good people send a message by contacting Fox News and saying "I'm sick and tired of it and I'm not going to watch you anymore."

Titanus 3:20 PM  

Perhaps someone can remind the commentariat that we are expected to only post no more than three times a day as a courtesy to others. That includes those who post anonymously.

Bourbon Street 3:29 PM  

I did not see this crossword as a “Christian-themed” puzzle; rather, it appears to be a tribute to his son RYAN who died much too soon (and before his father). RHO-PCP, BURY, OBIT, ER DOC (perhaps one tried to save his son, but I am speculating here), CRYPT, and ELI look to me like clues that make reference to Ryan’s death. The anguished cry “WHY ME?” has probably been spoken by every parent who has lost a child. The cross and the other religious references could be Mr. Haight’s expression of hope that he will someday be reunited with Ryan.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

For once I agree w Rex. This is a confusing mess of Jesus and Halloween stuff.

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

What a sad, sad individual you are Rex. Tilting at windmills of offense that don't even exist. It must be hard being you (or anyone personally associated with you). Maybe one day you'll grow up.

David Sexton 4:10 PM  

A beautiful tribute by Bruce Haight to his son. I thought this was great before I had any idea of the deeper meaning. Well done.

Unknown 4:40 PM  

What does a RAP have to do with a seance?

Fruit of the Loom 5:03 PM  

I heard that he insulted someone for not changing their underwear. HA!

G. Weissman 5:27 PM  

Bruce H@12:40 & Jberg@7:05: caricaturing a point doesn’t necessarily refute the point. It can show the need to take things to an extreme because the starting point is reasonable.

G. Weissman 5:29 PM  

Bourbon Street@3:29 pm: Maybe Halloween wasn’t the best day to publish this puzzle, if what you wrote is the case.

Andrew Heinegg 5:32 PM  

Calman, you need to watch more old, campy Hollywood movies. The plot typically is a murder has occurred and all of the principals are stuck in a house. Somehow,there is a seance specialist present who can communicate with the dead.

The holder of the seance announces to the dead person that they should answer all the questions by a rap-one rap for yes and two raps for no.

This has been used in everything from Abbott and Costello to semi-serious mysteries and everywhere in between.

Suzie Q 5:34 PM  

Late to the party but wow, what a weird day on the blog.
First, I had fun finding the crypt.
Second, Thanks to Dr. Haight for dropping by with such a wit despite the serious back story.
As for @Rex and his review...I don't know if he is tilting at windmills or circling the drain!

Cassieopia 5:38 PM  

@calman 4:40 - at a seance, a rap on a table or wall is supposed to indicate the presence of a spirit. "Show us a sign, spirit, if you are indeed here!" RAP RAP RAP It's a thing.

Gareth Bain 5:40 PM  

CUTA is weird, but crosswords can do that to you. I went with AREA like many above me...

Malsdemare 5:45 PM  

@anonymous 12:10, I stand corrected: All hallows eve and the feast of all souls are separate. But the point stands. Halloween has religious roots.

Greg 5:46 PM  

I liked it.

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

Ariving at a hotel...

“Did you self park”?
“No I valeted”

Very common thIng to say. Hear it all the time. Just looks weird in print. And reminds me of that classic John Hughes scene:

“How do you spell quiche”?
“You don’t spell it son, you eat it”

Bruce Haight 8:35 PM  

My success rate is about 15% with the NYT - it helps to submit a lot, but I didn't get my first acceptance till #39

GR 9:09 PM  

This was #3 at the Pleasantville tournament. For what it's worth, I never noticed the cross. I was starting to wonder how we were supposed to fill in an uncrossed word, then noticed "ARE" and fortunately it fell into place.

Z 10:46 PM  

Uh, “As he wrote his comments, though, calls into question basic editorial honesty over at the NYTX,” seemed to me to clearly refer to Haight’s comments over at about being lied to about the reason for a different puzzle being rejected. Also, Haight is not the editor of the NYTX so I’m surprised people thought I called Haight a liar. And yes, I noted lots of possible outs for Shortz et al. I note that Haight didn’t choose to clarify or elaborate, but maybe he thinks I think ill of him, too. I don’t.

@Many - Thanks. I do confess to being pretty brutal towards anonymice, i.e. those who contribute little but insults here. I doubt that I’ve been perfect, but if I’m ever disagreeing with someone I do try to reread before I hit publish and make sure I’m discussing the issue not the person. Of course, sometimes life happens (like having one’s in-laws visiting) and insufficient care is taken to avoid confusion. Apologies.

Logan 1:00 AM  

Are we still doing phrasing?

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

The clue for 49 across is wrong! The Greek letter "rho" is pronounced as an R, not a P as in Plato. The name Plato begins with the Greek letter "pi."

fakt chekker 9:55 AM  

@anon 5:28 – Plato was Greek. The upper and lower case symbol(s) Ρ ρ stand for RHO ; the Greek symbols for pi are Π π. The clue reads “P, for Plato” not “P, as in Plato”. So you’re not as smart as you think you are. Please pay attention to detail so I don’t have to call you out as the ass you are.

Burma Shave 10:29 AM  


was drinking ATON of ALE or TEA.
We were AGASP at the ALERT from a few
who made a SCENE ERE they had to PEA.


thefogman 10:34 AM  

CMON Rex! It wasn't that bad. There wasn't ATON of bad FILL. So why cause such a SCENE? Time for a RYAN coke and maybe an ALE.

Diana, LIW 10:58 AM  

Ah yes - remember Halloween? Seems so long ago and far away...

Once I read the themer clue, I got it and I got it. Indeed - don't bury the headline (say all good journalists. Remember journalists?)

I think the "stretch" is @Rex's commentary. C'mon, guy!

Hey @Rondo - I do believe I saw one of those tri-picture thingys in the church on Summit - eh?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 11:13 AM  

I've seen versions of this trick before: words used to represent letters to spell out some CRYPTic message. Didn't really notice the cross, so the Jesus factor didn't hit me with any force. I was drawn to the (a) shallow goalpost or (b) the bed. Or was it a wide H? No, it turned out to be a...CRYPT. And the word is indeed buried. Pretty simple, as puzzle themes go. There was ATON of extra theme stuff: BURY, OBIT, the GRAVE of GRAVEL, and even the ROSE, which so often gets placed upon the casket.

Starting out, I thought we were in for a Scrabble glut, but it was just your CUJO/AJAX crossing. How about a battle between those two! As far as VALETED, I think that's "eau de speration" per @M&A. Too bad it didn't have an S where the T is; then we could have that great horse Seabiscuit! Oh well. If we can say TIFF is short for Tiffany, then I nominate Tiffany Coyne, model on "Let's Make a Deal," for DOD. I know, it's a stretch. Par.

rondo 12:32 PM  

Micro-aggressed by supposed Christian symbology/clues? What’s next? And Halloween - the evening before the Christian holy day of All Hallows' Day. So yeah, it is. Get over it.
Fun little dumb puz including a cross to scare away the vampires. At least that’s what I was thinking at first glance of the grid. And then the THEME showed up.

I’d be Charmed to name ROSE McGowan yeah baby.

And on the outro, a little DITTY by the CRYPT Kicker Five . . .

rainforest 2:54 PM  

@BS - your "PEA DITTY" is great.

Hurray for Bruce Haight. Always something "different" in his offerings. Here, you can sort of see a Jack'o'lantern floating over the crypt, if you want to.

Some good stuff in here with enough Hallowe'en references to satisfy me.

I'm hardly a 1%er or elitist, but I admit I have VALETED (but never inhaled).
By definition I like all Bruce Haight's puzzles.

leftcoastTAM 5:24 PM  

How can you not like this clean and clever Bruce Haight puzzle?

Set it up so you have to finish most of it to get the THEME and the CRYPT, include some good long downs like SEASERPENT and PEAGRAVEL, throw in an obscure but gettable DEA that isn't the Drug Enforcement Administration, and we have a winner.

A solid Wednesday. No fuss, no muss, and fun to do.

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