by Parker Higgins & Ross Trudeau
[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty: 3.5/5
Halloween is easily my favorite time of year in crossworld. Spooky grid art. Macabre thematic conceits. The seasons seems to bring out the best in the constructing set. Don’t miss this one from Paolo.
Meanwhile, Jessie and I are visiting with family rather than getting decked out or properly raging, as is our typical wont. Halloween also happens to be my mom’s birthday! We do live on one of those streets that T-junctions on both ends and is descended upon my hundreds of neighborhood trick-or-treaters, so there’s that to look forward to when we get home this afternoon.
Parker and I would like to extend our appreciation to Judy, Jacob, Todd, and Chaz and Kaylee Bruscato for test solving “Pop-up Scare.” Thoughts and *spoilers* from Parker and me below…
Parker: I’ve always found Spirit Halloween interesting as a phenomenon. It pulls in almost $600 million almost entirely between two months of the year! It shows up basically overnight in more locations that Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s combined! Anyway, seemed like a fun idea for a crossword theme and Ross had the spookiest weekend of the year available for it. I hope you find the solving experience to be the perfect blend of tricky and treatful.
Ross: Both the thematic conceit and the gridwork on this one were all Parker’s work. What a guy. We edited the clues we sent to our test solvers over bourbon late Friday night, and scanning the final product confirms that thing our decision making was predictably, uh, loosey goosey.
Happy solving, friends!
12 thoughts on ““Pop-up Scare””
As I understand it the only thing relevant about the themer clues is the abandonment part, right – Chernobyl, Christ’s tomb, etc. are just distractions? Hmm.
Why has 36A never, as far as I can tell, been clued with reference to Sylvan Esso? Feels like the portion of crossworders – particularly indie crossworders – who know the pop duo should be higher than the portion who buy gas in Canada…
@Rich, Some of us are old enough to remember when “Exxon” was “Esso” in the US! 🙂 It changed in 1972.
I’m in that group of sufficiently-old people! And I might be the only member of the group who also listens to Sylvan Esso! I’m in the Goldilocks Zone…
@Rich, I’m impressed! I had to look up Sylvan Esso! 🙂
Sylvan Esso is a new name for me–looking up now. As for the theme clues, you got it!
Okay, so … in 33 minutes and 20 seconds, with no look-ups and no errors, I completed this puzzle (even though I had never ever heard of “Spirit Halloween”!) and I’ve now spent another twenty minutes trying to understand the duplicate entries, but … I don’t get it … 😳. Explanation? Anyone? You there, in the corner, with the sly grin? … 😜.
I think, as @Rich suggested, these are all abandoned places where a Spirit Halloween has “popped up.”
@Jesse, I am confused by those entries too, but I don’t think a Spirit Halloween has “popped up” at Chernobyl or the moon!
*chef’s kiss* for yet another meme artfully gridded; tis the season :’)
Thanks, Jasper! This one is pure silliness and also kind of ingenious, so it should come as no surprise that it was Parker’s brainchild.
I happen to live in Jerusalem where Halloween is…not a thing. Imagining a Halloween Spirit popping up in the Old City makes the joke even funnier. Well done.
I don’t miss Halloween, but I do miss PayDay, my favorite American candy bar.
Alyssa, I gotta say, I think you’re missing out. PayDays are deeply undervalued here, the Halloween night exchange rate you could be enjoying for, say, a single peanut butter cup… Thanks for solving!