5D. Here we have another literal treat, as well as one of the two “Star Wars” references in this puzzle: The “Word Before Tea or Fett” is BOBA. BOBA tea is another name for bubble tea, which contains tiny tapioca bubbles, and BOBA Fett is the infamous “Star Wars” bounty hunter.
61D. Even more delicious treats! The “kind of cuisine featuring tom yung goong and tom kha kai” is THA. These are the two types of THA soup.
64D. We’ll end the treats with a hint that isn’t about food, but it’s no less delicious: “‘Tuesday is the hardest crossword of the week,’ for example,” is a silly meta-clue for LIE . As we’ve discussed before, including yesterday, you can never perfectly predict the difficulty of a puzzle from the day of the week it runs, but you can make a pretty good guess. It would indeed be unusual for the most difficult puzzle of the week to fall on a Tuesday!
Theme of the day
This puzzle has several sentences that contain shopping list items for a certain Doctor of Literature, whose creation is made of all kinds of odds and ends. The first items are NUTS AND BOLTS (20A, marked as “Basic Practical Details”). These appear to be pretty basic building materials, so there was no indication at this point in the resolution that we would be creating a monster by the end.
It became a bit clearer, however, with the introduction of the following two ingredients on the shopping list: ONE ARM AND ONE LEG (34A: “What Expensive Things Cost”). The last element of the list is necessary for the animation of creation: a LIGHTNING LIGHT (42A: “Magnet for criticism”). I appreciate that LIGHTNING ROD, like the other two thematic entries, is stated in a way that does not suggest the literal meaning of the term but rather presents a figurative interpretation.
Taken together, these thematic entries lead the solver to identify the “Doctor whose shopping list might include 20, 34, and 42?” Like Dr FRANKENSTEIN. It’s a perfect puzzle for Halloween week. Kudos to Mr. Schlossberg for really getting the festive and timely theme right.
Want to submit crosswords to the New York Times?
The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system, and you can submit your puzzles online.
For tips on how to get started, read our “How to Create a Crossword Puzzle” series.