“It’s… IT’S ALIVE!”

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On this website Halloween starts on October 1st. You’re going to get at least two Halloween-themed grids (starting today), and another spooky one at the end of the month in the Wall Street Journal. oooOOOOoooOOoooooo

Things are downright batty this week, so I’m leaning right on in to the macabre, to the spooky, to *any*thing that will get more folks in a freaking mask.

A couple of heads-ups before we talk about this week’s puzz. First, the Wednesday New York Times puzzle this week is a #rossword that I’m confident will get a giggle or at least a mirthful snort out of you.

And second, don’t forget to sign up for the Fall Themeless League being run by the Boswords boys on Monday nights in October and November starting tomorrow. Deadline to register is today!

Spoilers and discussion for “It’s… IT’S ALIVE” after the JUMP SCARE!!!!1111

Can sh*t get any Wilder?

I was so tickled by this idea that I texted the finished grid to like half a dozen people like a puppy with an 8-foot branch in its mouth.

The idea started with the phrase I’VE / CREATED A MONSTER (3, 15), which I intended to stack and center at the bottom of a 15×15 grid, and “build” whatever interesting monster I could find with homophonic syllables. And actually, el chupacabra was I think the first monster that came to mind.

I initially started messing with ELLE, CHU/CHOO/CHEW, PAC, A, BRA as the syllabication, but it felt inelegant that PAC as in like SUPER PAC is pronounced with a short-a sound, while that syllable is usually pronounced with a long-a in “chupacabra.” After some research, I settled on PAK SE-RI (or SE-RI PAK, as westerners might know her) as a closer homophone.

It was just dumb luck that I was able to find ELLE MACPHERSON (14) to match CREATE A MONSTER (14), and we were off to the races. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to get those very long down answers in JUST TO BE SURE and MEAN BUSINESS passing through three themers apiece. And, yes, I dropped in a dupe with clues that call attention to the dupe… couldn’t help myself. BOO!

Happy solving. Masks up. Stay safe.

-Ross

6 thoughts on ““It’s… IT’S ALIVE!”

  1. Retired teacher here. I remember in the mid-nineties, my fourth-grade students were all talking about El Chupacabras, convinced it was real. Fun puzzle! Thanks!

    1. Hey, Kelly! Glad you enjoyed it. As for 40/54 down, that was intentional. I’ve long complained about the arbitrary nature not being able to use the same word (especially short and common ones) in the same puzzle… you’ll forgive me if I die too loudly on this hill!

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